I do not frequently listen to radio shows or podcasts, but I made the exception when someone told me about “Cabin Pressure.” “Cabin Pressure” aired on BBC Radio Four from 2008-2014 and starred Roger Allam, Stephanie Cole, Benedict Cumberbatch, and John Finnemore and it follows the wonderful misadventures of the employees at MJN Air. I am a huge Cumberbatch fan and have seen everything I can get my hands on of his. Naturally, I had to tune in to “Cabin Pressure” to see what the hype was all about. Thank you to whoever posted on Tumblr about this show because it’s hysterical.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays Martin Crieff, the accident prone, awkward, and by the book captain of MJN Air. He desperately wants to be taken seriously as a pilot, but it turns out he’s not even being paid at MJN Air. He’s very nervous and indecisive, usually depending on the advice of his colleagues to make decisions while flying. Martin feels as if he has to be really prove to others that he is indeed the captain, and can come across as arrogant while doing so.
Roger Allam plays Douglas Richardson, the smooth talking, smart ass first officer of MJN Air. He speaks frequently of his previous job at Air England which is was fired from. Douglas is a better pilot, but is very loose with the rules which gets under Martin’s skin. People usually mistakenly assume he’s the captain because he’s older, calm, and collected. He even lies to his wife about his rank.
Stephanie Cole plays Carolyn Knapp-Shappey, the intimidating and cheap owner of MJN Air. She enjoys striking terror into people’s hearts and asserting herself as the leader in all situations. She started MJN Air after winning the jet in her divorce. Her ex-husband is still angry about that, so she rubs it in his face with the company name “My Jet Now.” She occasionally helps with stewardessing which usually involves her making sarcastic remarks at inconsiderate passengers.
John Finnemore plays Arthur Shappey, the shy, excitable, and loveable idiot who is a steward for MJN Air and is also Carolyn’s son. He tries his best, but it’s never good enough. The thrill of flying and taking trips never gets old for Arthur and he loves hanging out and playing games with Martin and Douglas, even if he never wins. John Finnemore is also the creator and writer of “Cabin Pressure.”
One of my favorite things in “Cabin Pressure” are the games Martin and Douglas play together while flying. One of the games was to do a cabin address and include as many Hitchcock references as possible. Another game, that is super fun to play with friends, is books that sound more interesting with the last letter removed from the title, e.g. “Of Mice and Me.” My personal favorite is normal people with evil sounding names. Martin is unlucky and usually loses these games to Douglas. He is especially bad at Simon Says. Arthur tries to join in on the games, but he tends to be even worse than Martin.
John Finnemore’s writing style is brilliant. He really captures the essence of dealing with customers quite well. I have never worked in the airline industry, but I do work in customer service, the people are the same. He also has a knack for writing incredibly unique characters that work well together. For example, Martin is very strict about the rules when working and Douglas is not, however there is little conflict between the two, in fact, they spend a lot of time cracking jokes and playing games to pass the time when flying. That’s very true to life, and many of their interactions feel so real, like things my coworkers and I do or say. Even the side characters Finnemore wrote are incredibly memorable. I cannot tell you how many times I have watched something and a side character that was in a previous episode or film has popped up and I honestly just do not remember them. Some shows or films have characters that truly seem fictional, but Finnemore’s characters seem very real. Even if it is a fictional story, I want the characters to feel real, I want to be able to associate them with real people in my life, I want to connect to the characters. “Cabin Pressure” does that for me and I love it.
“Cabin Pressure” is a fantastic radio show. It’s easy to listen to which is very important for me because I easily lose interest in radio shows or podcasts because there’s no visual to focus my attention on. The episodes are about a half hour long which is perfect for my work commute. There’s only twenty seven episodes, and they are in alphabetical order (Z is in two parts). I love “Cabin Pressure” so much that I cosplayed it. Even Benedict Cumberbatch wants more “Cabin Pressure.” I highly recommend checking it out, it is on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.